Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Expanding Our Knowledge of La Ciudad

In late February, archaeological data recovery investigations will begin for a portion of La Ciudad, a large prehistoric Hohokam village (A.D. 650–1450) on Canal System 2 that covers almost 600 acres in eastern Phoenix. In 1982-1983, ASU conducted a large-scale excavation within a portion of La Ciudad to mitigate impacts from development of Loop 202 and I-10. These previous excavations in the Los Solares locus of La Ciudad found a large farming village that was occupied from the Pioneer through Sedentary periods, approximately A.D. 650 through 1150. Los Solares once contained numerous trash mounds surrounding habitation areas with hundreds of pit houses that were occupied by multiple households, along with roasting features (hornos), canals, cemeteries, and a ball court. The Classic period of La Ciudad was southwest of the ASU excavations and it contained a large platform mound with plazas, adobe room blocks, and a large community cemetery. The ASU excavations found extensive Colonial and Sedentary period components of La Ciudad, and only very little of the Pioneer period occupation was excavated.

 Archaeological fieldwork scheduled to begin later this month represents the continuation of data recovery investigations started in 2011 to mitigate impacts from a proposed federally funded senior housing project sponsored by the City of Phoenix. In 2011, test excavations within this project area identified a component of La Ciudad that may date to a poorly understood part of the Pioneer period. The testing phase for the housing project found a settlement with remnants of canals, pit houses, and field houses associated with Sweetwater, Snaketown, and Gila Butte Red-on-buff ceramics. These ceramics suggest the site dates to the middle Pioneer period (A.D. 500–800) and continues into the early Colonial period (A.D. 800–850) and possibly later. These site components will be explored further with data recovery excavations. We don’t know what will be found, but this work has the potential to add significantly to our understanding of Hohokam occupation during the Pioneer period within the Salt River Valley.

Posted By Laurene Montero, M.A., City Archaeologist

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